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UAE-China trade ties deepen with landmark judicial cooperation agreement

UAE-China trade ties deepen with landmark judicial cooperation agreement

October 27, 2016


Press Release 

UAE-China trade ties deepen with landmark judicial cooperation agreement

  • DIFC Courts and Shanghai High People’s Court to work together to achieve shared objectives
  • DIFC Courts separately publish guide to recognition and enforcement of money judgments, produced in partnership with law firm King & Wood Mallesons

 Shanghai, China; 27 October 2016: Trade ties between the UAE and China received a significant boost today with the signing of a landmark cooperation agreement between two of the countries’ key commercial courts.

The Shanghai High People’s Court, the foremost business court in the commercial and financial centre of mainland China, and the DIFC Courts have agreed to work together to achieve shared strategic objectives, provide the basis for future judicial exchanges, and deliver legal excellence.

The DIFC Courts are the first foreign commercial court to cooperate closely with the Shanghai High People’s Court, with the agreement designed to reinforce commercial links between the two cities by bringing certainty to businesses through enabling them to trade securely.

Annual trade between the UAE and China is estimated to be worth in excess of $55 billion annually, while more than 4,200 Chinese companies are currently operating in the UAE. The DIFC has particularly close links to China and is home to four of its biggest banks.

The agreement was signed by the respective heads of the two courts, Chief Justice Michael Hwang and Vice President Sheng Yongqiang, ahead of Dubai Week in China.

Chief Justice Michael Hwang said: “Given the strength of trade ties between the UAE and China, we have made forging links with our counterparts in the world’s second largest economy a strategic priority in recent years, particularly given Dubai’s position as an important node for China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative. We have now reached the stage where we can formalise these relationships and work together to make a significant contribution to the Dubai-China relationship in relation to judicial matters. The DIFC Courts and Shanghai High People’s Court are at the heart of business in our respective countries, with this agreement creating a valuable framework to support the increasing number of companies operating between the UAE and China.”  

In its official announcement, the Shanghai High People’s Court noted the “collaboration will act as a stimulus for economic and social development between the two cities”.

In a related but separate move, the DIFC Courts have published a guide for law firms and business on the mutual recognition and enforcement of monetary judgments in China and Dubai. It has been drafted jointly by the DIFC Courts and King & Wood Mallesons, a leading global law firm headquartered in Asia and China, and provides detailed explanation as to how a DIFC Courts judgement can be recognised and enforced in China, and vice versa. The guide is based on the existing 2004 Judicial Assistance Treaty between the People’s Republic of China and the UAE, and each court system’s own laws, and is available on

Mr. Shao Zili, Co-Chairman of King & Wood Mallesons China’s Management Committee, commented, ”As one of China’s leading law firms, we are honoured to support DIFC Courts by jointly drafting this Guide. It not only represents our close cooperation, but also provides valuable explanations for law practitioners in both countries. ”

Since their jurisdiction was opened to businesses worldwide in October 2011, the DIFC Courts have established one of the world’s strongest enforcement regimes. Their judgments can be enforced internationally through treaties such as the GCC Protocol and Riyadh Convention; treaties with China and France; and arrangements with many common law courts overseas, including the Commercial Court of England and Wales, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Federal Court of Australia, the New South Wales Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Korea, the High Court of Kenya (Commercial and Admiralty Division), and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan.




Image 1: DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang and KWM Co-Chairman of China’s Management Committee Shao Zili at the signing ceremony of Dubai International Financial Centre Courts – Guide on Mutual Recognition and Enforcement of Civil and Commercial Judgments with the PRC Courts. 

DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang and Shanghai High People’s Court Vice-President Sheng Yongqiang

Image 2: DIFC Courts Chief Justice Michael Hwang and Shanghai High People’s Court Vice-President Sheng Yongqiang sign historic Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Judicial Exchange and Cooperation between Shanghai High People’s Court and Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. 

For further information, please contact:

Liam Turner/Tameem Alkintar

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller

Dubai, UAE

Tel: 971-4-4507600

Fax: 971-4-4358040

Email: / 

About the DIFC Courts

The UAE’s DIFC Courts administer a unique English-language common law system – offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The Courts, based in Dubai, provide certainty through transparent, enforceable judgments from internationally-recognised judges, who adhere to the highest global legal standards. The DIFC Courts are independent from, but complementary to, the UAE’s Arabic-language civil law system – offering a choice that strengthens both processes while ensuring public access to world-class justice.

In October 2011, a decree of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, opened the DIFC Courts’ jurisdiction to businesses from all across the GCC region and beyond to provide the international business community with access to one of the most advanced commercial courts in the world.

The DIFC Courts were established under laws enacted by the late HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai in September 2004.  The laws establishing the DIFC Courts are designed to ensure that the DIFC Courts provide the certainty, flexibility and efficiency expected by Court users. Nearly 1,180 cases have been resolved through the DIFC Courts since 2008, while over 90% of Small Claims Tribunal cases are concluded within three weeks. The Courts’ community-focused approach encourages early settlement, while their successful track record supports Dubai’s growing status as an international business hub.

In line with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s vision, the DIFC Courts serve to develop the UAE national workforce and enhance the competitiveness of Emirati advocates. The DIFC Courts are spearheading training programmes predominantly aimed at local Emirati lawyers, which offer knowledge of, and qualifications in, the English-language common law system.

About King and Wood Mallesons

King & Wood Mallesons is an international law firm headquartered in Asia. As the first firm in the world able to practice PRC, Hong Kong, Australian, English, the US and a significant range of European laws, our presence and resources in the world’s most dynamic economies are profound. We open doors to global clients and unlock opportunities for them as they look to unleash the fullest potential of the Asian Century. Leveraging our exceptional legal expertise and depth of knowledge in the China market, we advise Chinese and overseas clients on a full range of domestic and cross-border transactions, providing comprehensive legal services.

In mainland China and Hong Kong, the firm has nearly 300 partners and 1,200 lawyers with 11 offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Sanya, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Qingdao, Jinan, Chengdu, Hong Kong and other major commercial centers. Around the world, the firm has over 2,700 lawyers with an extensive global network of 32 international offices spanning Singapore, Japan, the US, Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and other key cities in Europe as well as presences in the Middle East and South Africa. We are a global law firm which provides a one-stop legal services covering laws in PRC, the UK, the US, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and European antitrust. With a large legal talent pool equipped with local in-depth and legal practice, we provide legal services in multiple languages.

The King & Wood Mallesons platform, therefore, is able to provide its unique perspectives and market insights in Asia and greater regions. As a leading law firm developed in China, equipped with local in-depth, strong practice capabilities and extensive experience and combined with global vision and resources, KWM provides full-service, multi-jurisdiction, comprehensive, one-stop legal service and the best commercial solutions to meet the diverse needs of domestic and global clients and ensures that wherever our clients are doing business, we deliver the same high quality, commercial and innovative legal services.

More information can be found at


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